Dear Ashlea, we would like to thank you and your Little Voices Putney team for all of your tremendous hard work and for putting so much time and dedication into each child. They did not only present a wonderful performance but they learned so much more than that. My daughter LOVED it and was very keen to come back each day. She met new friends and definitely wants to come back to the next. A great summer experience for my daughter and us. Plus bonus points for the inclusive DVD too!! Thank you so much.
Mrs Domingo - AradaParent
What Makes Us Special?
“At Little Voices we teach in small groups, up to eight pupils, so we can truly get to know each child, discover what makes them tick and tailor our teaching accordingly. Each child benefits from one to one attention and individual teaching – no getting lost at the back of a class of 30 pupils!”
Every child aged 4-18 years can apply for two free trial lessons with Little Voices so they can join in the fun and find out exactly what goes on. Students work towards accredited musical theatre, acting and communication exams with The London Academy Of Music and Dramatic Art.
“For me its not just about putting talented children on the stage. I am driven by the desire to help all children, no matter what their aims—be it a life on stage, becoming an accomplished public speaker or to simply have more confidence. Little Voices teaches you skills for life,” says Ashlea.
To find out more about our centres across south west london contact us on: SWL@littlevoices.org.uk or call: 07823384992
Focus Is The Key!
Focus is so hard to sustain, especially for children and young people because naturally they have very curious minds and concentration is so difficult for prolonged periods of time.
Last night I was watching some exam classes at one of our centres. The performances overall were very good however ensuring that the pupils had focus and total immersion into their characters from the moment the music starts until the minute that the music ends is always a challenge.
It is really hard to play the role of a character in mind, body and emotional intensity for a prolonged period of time…..3 minutes. Of course at the same time they are moving around the staging area and singing…..
One’s mind naturally wonders and distractions occur.
The life skill that is being built through Little Voices lessons and the exam process is huge! We all need to be able to focus and concentrate in our job roles in later life.
When you are listening and watching your son/daughter practise ensure that they are absolutely focussed and ‘in character’ from the very beginning to the very end of the piece. This may include periods of music where they are not required to sing or times of silence within an acting piece or whilst another character is singing or acting!
Have a great week!
“I can’t get my child to practise at home”
Well this is a common phrase that we hear from parents and grandparents every week, especially on the run up to an exam.
It’s a worrying phrase for us to hear a teachers and facilitators each week because we know that the lessons alone will not achieve the success that a child deserves. As a parent you know how important it is for your child to practise too! So how can we overcome this? There must be a solution!
I find that because every child learns differently that we need to find a method of practise that is enjoyable and easy for them. Practise needs to be effortless to a large extent
For some children writing the words down helps, repeatedly.
For others drawing pictures that reflect each word/phrase or line
Some prefer to put actions to the words
Older children can use their imaginations to sense, feel and place themselves subconsciously truly IN the setting of the piece.
And of course performing in front of as many different family members or in front of a mirror REALLY helps.
I hope that these little tips help!
Lemons or Lions…..
Vocal Tip # 5: Flex Those Facial Muscles
For the young ones we call this lion faces and lemon faces! It’s a game and it’s fun but the Mini Voices don’t realise that!!
As with other vital muscles that support great singing. The neck and facial muscles play an obvious role. Really the goal is to minimize the effort required to sing so that you may effectively control your tone and your pitch. Warming up cannot be avoided. There are mainly 10 groups of muscles in the neck, head, and face. Each consisting of numerous tinier muscles all working in harmony to create the beautiful sound making up your voice. Here is a list in order of the types of movements you can perform on various parts to prepare yourself to sing:
2) Jaw Stretch
3) The Pucker
4) Silly Smile
5) Eye Brow Lift
6) Eye Roll
Ask your son or daughter to do their favourite warm up game to show you!!
Being a good singer relies on H2O
Vocal Tip # 4: Water…Drink Tons Of It!
It doesn’t matter if you meet a heavy metal singer, pop singer, musical theatre singer or an opera singer. These true professionals can appreciate the abundance of good H2O. It’ll always be within arms reach whether they are in the studio, rehearsal, or on stage. Some prefer drinking warm water, claiming that it better refreshes your throat. Others swear that ice cold water can aid in keeping swelling down, especially after a killer belting performance. Regardless of your preference the tip is – just drink lots of it!
Some think that gargling water can hydrate the vocal cords. The truth is that the no food or water comes in contact with them as they are located in your windpipe. When liquid goes down, the automatic flap called the epiglottis closes to protect your lungs from being filled with water. This also covers the vocal cord every time you take a drink.
What happens when you get water in your windpipe? It causes a choking gag reflex. So really, the only way to hydrate your vocal cords is to drink water.
Why lots? It is because the water has to enter your stomach, and is first supplied to all your major organs, like your heart, kidneys, etc.. Eventually, smaller organs like your vocal cords are supplied. And supply you must!
Drink drink drink WATER!
We don’t have a drum in our bodies for singing do we?
Vocal Tip # 3: Tighten That Drum
We start talking using the technical words for singing in Mini Voices. Often describing the diaphragm and saying that it is a tricky word because the ‘f’ sound is created with a ‘ph’!! We talk about what shape it is and where it is!
Our pupils get used to the terminology and of course we build on this so that by the time they are being examined on the technicalities of the singing voice from age 14 upwards it is very familiar!
It is absolutely essential to proper singing technique that a singer understands how the diaphragm, lungs, and chest cavity affects their singing. Think of these 3 combined as forming a drum. A drum that is tuned loosely sounds flat and boring, as it lacks resonance. So the idea is to expand your rib cage by flexing the muscles that pull your ribs in and out. Effectively tightening that “drum”. This will result in better tones in your voice as well as increasing your lung capacity, allowing you to take less breathes between verses, resulting in better control.
What’s the second tip for becoming a superb singer?
Vocal Tip # 2: Breathing
Getting used to breathing well is a fabulous tool for life in general but of course crucial for singing! If you can take control of your breathing you can remain calm in all situations too! As adults we often get thrown into situations that push us out of our comfort zones. Learning to use your breath effectively will help tremendously!
Try holding your breath and singing or even speaking. You get the point. Clearly air is a major component to singing. When singing a melody, the words are expressed quite differently than if you were to simply recite the sentences aloud. The volume, the pitch, the tone, and the tempo can have you gasping for air before you know it.
Learning and mastering proper breathing is one of the keys to instantly improving your ability to sing. Unless we are exercising, normally our breathing is quite shallow. As we begin training our body to sing, we need to take deeper breaths in order to sustain our sound loud and clear for our listening audience. At first you may even feel a rush of dizziness as the deeper you breath, the more oxygen that gets to your brain. But don’t worry. Your body just needs to get used to proper and more efficient breathing.
Have a super week and let us know if the vocal tips are helping!
TOP VOCAL TIPS – the first one today is………POSTURE
To produce a better sound you need to ensure you do certain things.
Vocal Tip # 1: Posture
I am always saying to our pupils. Don’t lean, stand up straight!
My own parents and grandparent always said to me as a child, “STAND UP STRAIGHT don’t SLOUCH!”
For performers the truth is…….it makes you a better singer.
It’s vitally important to align your body parts and prepare them to support your sound, while eliminating tension. Tension not only makes you feel uncomfortable and affects your mood, but can greatly restrict air flow, making singing a chore rather than pure enjoyment.
Exercise: Find a wall and stand with your back to it. Place your head to the wall so that your chin is parallel to the floor. Open your shoulders and roll them back to the wall. Without allowing your spine to touch, slowly move your back towards the wall to straighten. Arms to your sides. Feet shoulder width apart, find your balance. Try to relax. The only tension you create should be in your abdominal muscles that are supporting your singing. It is more effective if you do this in front of a mirror. This can especially help you to visualize your stance after you see and feel proper posture!
Hope you have a great week!
Reflection On Drama From a 17 Year Old
An insightful reflection on drama from the seventeen year old, Sophie Large, who was tragically killed in a car accident many years ago. Jane (our founder of Little Voices) is a trustee of the charity Sophie’s Silver Lining Fund and after her tragic death her parents set up the charity in her honour and support aspiring actors and singers in their Drama School and Music Conservatoire training aged 18+. DAME JUDI DENCH and SIR THOMAS ALLEN are patrons of the charity:
Here is an expert:
It just shows what an enormous impact drama and performing can have on a young person.
“Thoughts on Drama”
I have enjoyed drama since I was 8 years old. For ten years I have wanted to be an actress, stubbornly assuring my teachers as much. In 1995 I got a place in the National Youth Theatre and the introductory course changed my outlook totally. We did a lot of physical drama, and experimented with portraying emotions through physical analogy. Our project was based on the loss of a loved one.
Drama for me, is showing people home truths, and experimenting with ideas that I feel strongly about. I took the Junior Drama Club at school and found directing children, whose minds are so imaginative and uninhibited, immensely fulfilling and exciting. I found it easy to adapt my artistic ideas to their age and as I have always loved working with kids I was very successful. With drama, I have enormous drive. I find it easy to focus myself and try out new ideas.
Drama is an essential part of me. I am lost without it and I want to pioneer my ideas, even if I have no money and have to live in a tent. I would be being untrue to myself if I denied myself the chance to create drama.
Hope you enjoyed this! Her book of poems and writings is available to purchase from the site www.sslf.org.uk